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The daimyo (大名 daimyō?) (Template:Audio) were the most powerful feudal rulers from the 12th century to the 19th century in Japan. The term daimyo literally means "great name." From the shugo daimyo of the Kamakura period through the sengoku daimyo to the daimyo of the Edo period, the rank had a long and varied history. The term daimyo is also sometimes used to refer to the leading figures of such clans, also called "warlords". It was usually, though not exclusively, from these warlords that a shogun arose or a regent was chosen.
Daimyo in the Edo periodEdit
The Daimyo usually wore purples, ranging from dark to light depending on how high ranked they were. Dark and light purple preceded dark and light green, dark and light red, and finally black. The very highest daimyos were considered to be nobles. After the Battle of Sekigahara of 1600 that marked the beginning of the Edo period, shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu reorganized the clans and their territories, formerly provinces (kuni), into the han, based on their production of rice. Daimyo headed han assessed at 10,000 koku (50,000 bushels) or more. Ieyasu also divided the daimyo into three groups, depending on how close they were to the ruling Tokugawa family: shinpan, who were related to the Tokugawa, the fudai daimyo, who had been vassals of the Tokugawa or allies in the battle, and the tozama daimyo, who opposed the Tokugawa but were defeated. Around 1800, there were approximately 170 daimyo in Japan.
The shinpan were collaterals of Ieyasu, such as the Matsudaira, or descendants of Ieyasu other than in the main line of succession. Several shinpan, including the Tokugawa of Owari (Nagoya), Kii (Wakayama) and Mito, as well as the Matsudaira of Fukui and Aizu, held large han.
A few fudai daimyo, such as the Ii of Hikone, held large han, but many were small. The shogunate placed many fudai at strategic locations to guard the trade routes and the approaches to Edo. Also, many fudai daimyo took positions in the Edo shogunate, some rising to the position of roju. The fact that fudai daimyo could hold government positions while tozama, in general, could not was a main difference between the two.
Tozama daimyo held large fiefs, with the Kaga han of Ishikawa Prefecture, headed by the Maeda clan, assessed at 1,000,000 koku. Other famous tozama clans included the Mori of Nagato Province (Choshu), the Shimazu of Satsuma, the Date of Sendai, the Uesugi of Yonezawa, and the Hachisuka of Awa. Initially, the Tokugawa regarded them as potentially rebellious, but for most of the Edo period, marriages between the Tokugawa and the tozama, as well as control policies such as sankin kotai, resulted in peaceful relations. The sankin kōtai was a system whereby the Tokugawa forced all daimyo to spend every other year in Edo, leaving family members behind in their han. This increased political and fiscal control over the daimyo by Edo. As time went on in the Tokugawa period, many other systems of controlling the daimyo were put into place, such as mandatory contributions to public works such as road building. In addition, daimyo were forbidden to build ships and castles, and other shows of military power were often tightly controlled.
Upset by these controls, and often in bad economic situations because of things like sankin kotai, forced support of public works, and extravagant spending, the daimyo sided against the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Meiji Restoration. In 1869, the year after the Meiji Restoration, the daimyo, together with the kuge formed a new aristocracy, the kazoku. In 1871, the han were abolished and prefectures were installed, thus effectively ending the daimyo era in Japan.°≈